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How Well Is CHIP Addressing Oral Health Care Needs and Access for Children?

Published:March 25, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acap.2015.02.009

      Abstract

      Objective

      We examine how access to and use of oral and dental care under the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) compared to private coverage and being uninsured in 10 states.

      Methods

      We report on findings drawn from a 2012 survey of CHIP enrollees in 10 states. We examined a range of parent-reported dental care access and use measures among CHIP enrollees. Comparisons of the experiences of established CHIP enrollees to the experiences of newly enrolling children who had been uninsured or privately insured were used to estimate the impacts of CHIP on children's oral health and dental care.

      Results

      Most children enrolled in CHIP had a usual source of dental care and had received a dental checkup or cleaning in the past year, and most over age 6 had had sealants placed on their molars. In addition, parents of most CHIP enrollees were aware that CHIP covered dental benefits, and most reported not having trouble finding a dentist to see their child. Even so, 12% of CHIP enrollees had unmet dental care needs. Compared to being uninsured, CHIP enrollees did better across nearly all oral health measures. Compared to being privately insured, CHIP enrollees were more likely to have dental benefits, to have a usual source of dental care, and to have had a dental checkup/cleaning, but they were more likely to have trouble finding a dentist and less likely to say that their child's teeth were in excellent/very good condition.

      Conclusions

      Enrolling eligible uninsured children in CHIP led to improvements in their access to preventive dental care, as well as reductions in their unmet dental care needs, yet the CHIP program has more work to do to address the oral health problems of children.

      Keywords

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